Manchester United were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by 10-man Bournemouth at Old Trafford as Artur Boruc saved a second-half Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty to deny the Reds the chance to move into the top four.
Marcos Rojo had put United into a first-half lead, before former Red Joshua King levelled from the spot. Andrew Surman was shown a second yellow card moments before the break for pushing Ibrahimovic following an aerial challenge between United’s no.9 and Tyrone Mings.
Boss Jose Mourinho rotated his side, making four changes to the EFL Cup-winning team. The most notable was the return of Luke Shaw, who started a league game for the first time since the goalless draw with Burnley back on 29 October. Phil Jones partnered Rojo in central defence with Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney also included in the starting XI.
United, who came into this one having not played a league fixture for three weeks, could perhaps have been forgiven for having an EFL Cup hangover after bolstering the club’s trophy cabinet with a 41st major honour, but that was completely not the case as the Reds came flying out of the blocks.
Antonio Valencia won the ball high up the field and, after Ibrahimovic’s flick was cleared, the Ecuadorian crossed for Rooney at the back post, but he headed onto the roof of the net. Shaw was obviously out to impress and, after winning the ball in his own box, he sent Paul Pogba away with a glorious ball over the top, but the Frenchman’s effort was tipped wide by Boruc.
United should really have taken the lead moments later as a poor Mings back-pass found Rooney, but his square ball evaded Ibrahimovic, who would have had a tap in. The Reds were then nearly punished as a hopeful long ball found Benik Afobe who held off Rojo, but slipped at the vital moment allowing David De Gea to save.
At the other end, Anthony Martial cut in from the left and fired a low shot at goal which was again saved by Boruc as United began to turn the screw. This had all happened within the first 15 minutes so it was clear the Cherries were in for a long afternoon.
Martial could have had a hat-trick as this time Carrick did well to win the ball in midfield and play the winger in, but Boruc came to Bournemouth’s rescue again with a treble of his own. But the deserved breakthrough finally arrived on 23 minutes as Valencia’s miss-hit shot found Rojo, who had lurked inside the penalty area following a corner, and he poked the ball past the helpless Boruc.
United seemed to drop the tempo of their play following the goal which allowed Bournemouth to sustain a period of possession and they were back level from the spot five minutes before the break.
Marc Pugh was sent free down the left and he cut inside Jones, who left a trailing leg and took the winger down. King stepped up to fire the visitors level from the spot – only the second goal Mourinho’s men have conceded at Old Trafford in 2017.
Rooney had a chance to send United back in front moments before the break, before a big talking point in the game.
The United captain was first taken down by Mings before the defender looked like he kicked the head of Ibrahimovic whilst clambering over him. Surman, who had been booked earlier in the game for a late tackle on Carrick, was then shown a delayed second yellow card for pushing Ibrahimovic in retaliation to an aerial challenge between the Swede and Mings. Everyone around Old Trafford was left a little bemused by the situation, but what we do know is the sides went in level at the break, with United having the man advantage.
Possession: United 60% Bournemouth 40%
Shots at goal: United 10 Bournemouth 2
Shots on target: United 5 Bournemouth 1
Corners: United 7 Bournemouth 1
United again came out for the second half in positive fashion, looking to make the extra man count. A Mata cross was narrowly headed over his own crossbar by Steve Cook before Rooney had a shot on the turn tipped over.
Pogba then tried his luck from 30 yards, but again Boruc saved to his left. Mourinho opted to make a triple change in the search for the vital winner as Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford all came on.
Seconds later, United were rewarded a penalty of their own as a Pogba flick at the back post struck the hand of Adam Smith. Ibrahimovic’s spot kick, though, was brilliantly saved down low by Boruc who was frustrating Mourinho’s men at every opportunity.
Bournemouth were camped inside their own half for the remaining 20 minutes as they defended for their lives, but United could not break them down. Despite countless stoppages in play to allow the visiting players to receive treatment, only five minutes of stoppage time was played.
Pogba had chances late on to snatch a winner, but he missed his kick and failed to get any power in another effort that Boruc fielded, meaning United were held at home and were left to rue a missed opportunity to gain points on their top four rivals.
Possession: United 68% Bournemouth 32%
Shots at goal: United 20 Bournemouth 3
Shots on target: United 7 Bournemouth 1
Corners: United 15 Bournemouth 2
United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Shaw (Lingard 70); Carrick (Fellaini 70), Pogba; Mata, Rooney (Rashford 70), Martial; Ibrahimovic. Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Smalling, Herrera.
Booked: Ibrahimovic, Carrick, Rashford.
Bournemouth: Boruc; Smith, Cook, Mings (Cargill 78), Daniels; Surman, Arter, Fraser, Pugh (Gosling 45); King (Gradel 87), Afobe. Subs not used: Allsop, B Smith, Ibe, Wilshere.
Booked: Arter, Gosling.
Red Card: Surman.